Folklorist, novelist, poet, journalist; born at Eatonton, Georgia, U.S.A. 1848; died at Atlanta, Georgia, 3 July, 1908. Chiefly known for his stories of negro folk-lore which created an original department in American literature, he spent most of his life in journalistic work.
Of humble parentage and meagre education, he knew and loved as a boy "fields, animals, and folk" better than books. Apprenticed in 1862 to a Plantation editor, whose library was open to journalism in a grove, worked on various Louisiana and Georgia papers, and from 1876 to his retirement in 1890 was on the staff of the Atlanta Constitution . "The Tar Baby", contributed by accident (1877), found him his vocation. His knowledge of nature and the negro, acquired unconsciously in "the plantation", ripened as he wrote, resulting in a series of volumes whereof "Bre'r Rabbit" the hero, "Bre'r Fox", the villain, and other animals, with Mr. Sun, Sister Moon, Uncle Wind, and Brother Dust are the dramatic personae. "Uncle Remus" a wise old negro, is the narrator, "Miss Sally" the guardian spirit, "the little boy" a breathless listener. Wit, humour, homely wisdom, and kindly sympathy, combined with unrivalled knowledge of negro dialect and character, make "Uncle Remus, His Songs and Sayings" (1881), "Nights with Uncle Remus" (1883), "Uncle Remus and His friends (1893), "Little Mr. Thimblefinger" (1894), "Mr. Rabbit at Home" (1895) unique among folk-stories, distinctively American, and interesting to "children of all ages". They were translated into twenty-seven languages, and their author, popularly named "Uncle Remus", was lost in the narrator. But apart from his Uncle Remus's tales Harris ranks high as a novelist. "Mingo" (1884), "Free Joe" (1887), "Daddy Jake the Runaway" (1889), "Balam and his Master" (1891), "Aaron", "Aaron in the Wildwoods" (1893), and the "Chronicle of Aunt Minervy Ann" disclose a sympathy and intimate acquaintance with slave and master possessed by no other writer, and point to the wisest solution of the race problem.
Of his forty volumes he prized most "Sister Jane" and "Gabriel Tolliver", stories of his native Shady Dale, and written in his later years. They are his most finished work and the best record of his life and thoughts. The "Uncle Remus Magazine", founded in 1906, contains many a wise essay flavoured with the originality, whimsical humour, gentle charity, and purity of thought and expression that characterized all he wrote: "a homely, kind philosophy that uplifts the mind and grips the heart".
His favourite reading -- the Bible, Newman, Faber, à Kempis, and Sheehan -- his mental honesty, and the example of his wife, a cultured Canadian Catholic (the Mary Bullard of "Gabriel Tolliver"), to whom he credited his mental growth and the best that was in him, had long convinced him of Catholic truth. But a sensitive modesty that shunned notoriety and crowds, and confined him to the society of his family, restrained him from seeking baptism till 20 June 1908, a few weeks before his death. He died with the sole regret that he had so long deferred his entrance into the Catholic Church.
The universal tribute paid him showed that he had grown into the heart not only of the South, but of the nation. Atlanta has purchased his residence, "The Wren's Nest", and his "Snapbean Farm" to transform them into "Uncle Remus Park" as a monument to his memory.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online